Is Giancarlo Stanton's Potential in Fantasy Baseball Being Underestimated?
In order to be one of the great power hitters in baseball, one has to play baseball.
This is a simple concept of course, as actually being on a baseball field will more easily lend itself to hitting home runs, rather than being in the clubhouse's rehab area, working on areas of your body that are broken.
For Miami's young super-stud power hitter Giancarlo Stanton, he's had a tough time staying on the field during his not-so-brief career. Last season, he played in just 74 games after having the hamate bone in his left hand removed in June.
In 2014, he was hit on the face by a pitch in early September that ended his season prematurely after 145 games (he still led the NL in homers that year with 37, by the way). In the two seasons before that, Stanton played in just 116 and 123 games, respectively.
It is only in his first full season with the team, 2011, that Stanton reached the 150 games-played mark, although he tallied 37 fewer plate appearances that year than he did in '14.
There is no doubt that Stanton, when healthy, is perhaps the game's best pure power hitter, as his career numbers clearly show.
Twice in his career, Stanton has led the league in slugging (2012 and 2014), and twice before he's led the league in isolated power (2014 and 2011). Isolated power, or ISO, aims to be a better measurement of pure power as it calculates slugging percentage minus batting average, with the final result measuring how many extra bases a player average per at bat.
And virtually every year, Stanton is at or near the top of those two statistics. And as I wrote about last year, before his injury, Stanton was on pace for a 60-homer season.
But Stanton's health is an important factor when considering when to draft him for your year-long fantasy leagues this season.
Look, there's not much a player can do when he gets hit in the face with a pitch. That's not an injury-prone guy getting hurt again. But some of Stanton's other past maladies are concerning.
In 2011 he missed 11 games with hamstring and quad strains. He missed 36 games in 2012 because of an abdominal strain and loose bodies in his right knee. In '13, he missed 44 games because of another hamstring issue and left shoulder soreness, and then there was last year's half season missed because of the hamate bone.
Fantasy players who drafted Stanton in the first round last year were no doubt disappointed he didn't play a single inning for them after June 26.
Of course, there is always the promise and potential for something huge. If you project his final 2015 numbers over a full, 162-game schedule, Stanton would have hit 59 homers, posted 146 RBI, and totaled 370 bases last year.
Clearly, that is a player who is worthy of a top-five pick. But in order for anyone to feel comfortable picking him that early, Stanton is going to do what he has only been able to do on the rarest of occasions.
Stanton is going to have to make it through a full 162-game schedule relatively unscathed.
Because you can't be the best power hitter in the game if you aren't on the field.